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Day 8: Opatija to Cres

Today we were scheduled to travel from Opatija to our next base on the island of Cres (pronounced "tsress" not "cress"!). I had been extremely impressed when planning the holiday a few months ago to find that the Croatian bus company Autotrans now has a modern website where it is possible to buy tickets online and download them as e-tickets to print. As this was a key part of our travel arrangements, I had jumped at the opportunity to buy the tickets in advance. The journey to Cres from Opatija takes just over two hours (including around twenty minutes on the ferry) and there was a conveniently-timed bus leaving Opatija at 10.20. One of the main reasons we chose to add Cres to our itinerary in preference to any of the other nearby islands was how accessible it was as a result of this bus.

I was therefore disappointed to say the least when I checked my email yesterday evening to find a message from Autotrans saying that the bus had been cancelled! No reason was given but we were informed that we could use our tickets on an earlier bus from Opatija or a later bus from Rijeka. It seemed like a lot of hassle to get ourselves to Rijeka again only to catch a bus which would have to drive through Opatija on its way to Cres, so we decided we'd have to go with the earlier bus directly from Opatija. The only slight problem was that the early bus was departing at 07.20. It would arrive in Cres town (the main town on the island of Cres) at 09.30 but according to our reservation we wouldn't be able to check into our apartment until 16.00. That was going to be a lot of time to kill in Cres whilst being laden down with suitcases!

I went on booking.com to find the email address of the apartment and sent them a message in Croatian, explaining what had happened and asking them what the earliest we would be able to check into the apartment was. It was a bit of a gamble as it was quite late on Saturday evening by this point and there was no guarantee that anyone was going to pick up the message before we needed to depart on Sunday morning... but luckily it was a gamble that paid off and within an hour I got an email back saying that we could check in at 12.00. Phew :)

We set our alarms for 05.30 in the morning to give us time to have some breakfast and pack our remaining things before setting off for the bus station. We were treated to some wonderful views of sunrise in Opatija on our way.


We were surprised by how quickly we could see the sun moving in the sky.


We arrived at the bus station with plenty of time to spare before the bus, but began to get a bit unnerved when 07.20 came and went and it hadn't arrived. If there's anything worse than having to get up for a 07.20 bus then it would be getting up for a 07.20 bus which doesn't come! But eventually around 07.30 it rolled up and the driver didn't raise any objections when I explained to him that our tickets were for the later bus which had been cancelled.

Our journey took us along the coast to a place called Brestova, from where the ferries to Cres depart. The crossing was so smooth we hardly felt like we were moving, and before the ferry was docking on Cres. Wow. First impressions were that the island was like a mini-version of Montenegro. Steep mountains rose up directly from the coast and the bus began winding up a steep mountain road, which in places was only one lane wide. We had some amazing views back down to the sea, and passed a series of rather bewildered looking sheep at the side of the road.

We arrived in the town of Cres around 09.30 as promised. It was starting to become a beautifully sunny day and found a bench where we could sit and read while we waited to check into our apartment. It was a bit of a wait, but with a view like this we couldn't really complain.


It seemed like Cres was a very small town, but in a beautiful location.


As it got nearer to midday we set off to find the apartment. It didn't take too long for us to find the correct building indicated on our reservation, but when we arrived there there were about 10 door bells and no clue as to which might be the correct one to ring. In the end I had to phone the number on the reservation, which luckily resulted in me getting through to the lady who owned the apartment and she came downstairs to meet us.

The apartment turned out to be absolutely lovely, with a spacious living/dining area that opens out onto a little terrace. And there are two lots of air-conditioning, which we were particularly grateful for on such a boiling hot day :)



Once we had settled in we went out into the town to track down a restaurant where we could get lunch. We soon found a lovely place near the sea front where we were able to tuck into a huge plate of miješano meso (like a Croatian mixed grill).


After lunch we had a preliminary stroll around the town, quickly locating the main square.


We strolled along a coastal path for a while and enjoyed views back towards the centre of town.


We also found probably the closest thing to a beach we've seen in Croatia this year (though it's gravel rather than sand!)


The day was still incredibly hot so we went back to the apartment for a while, setting out again for another stroll once the sun was less intense.


We walked along the coast in the opposite direction this time and it was just as pretty.


There were some beautiful views of the sun starting to set over the water.



We walked for about 45 minutes until we had rounded a corner and the town was on the opposite side of the bay from us.


Then it was time to head back to the apartment for the night before the sun set completely.


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